Brand has made her mark on the world of
Indies with her love of editing. Working her way up
from editing intern to assistant, Brand managed to
edit her first feature film in three years after starting
out. Since then she has worked with filmmakers such
as Eli Steele (Whats Bugging Seth?), Michael
Phillip Edwards (Runt) and Mark David
(Intoxicating). Her work on the hilarious
documentary Outdoorsmen: Blood, Sweat and
Beers was shown in theatres earlier this year,
while her next project is American Cowslip, an
edgy dark comedy, which has her collaborating with
Mark David once again. I recently got a chance to
talk with Brand about editing for Indie films.
How did you get started in editing?
I decided in 1998 that I wanted to be a feature film
editor and everybody said its going to take 15 years
to edit your first feature. But I said, I want to do it,
I think I can do it in three, and sure enough I was
editing my first movie in three years from the day I
I started out taking editing classes at UCLA
extension and one of my instructors liked my work so
much that he let me intern for him. He then ended up
interning so much that he paid me from day one
me do it for awhile. Later, he hired me as his third
assistant and within three weeks I was his first
assistant. I was totally unqualified to be his first
assistant, but as he was looking to fill the position, I
managed to convince him that he didnt need to look
for anyone else because I was able to do everything
he needed me to do.
What is the best way for editors to get started in
All the advice that everyone gave me didnt end up
working out. I didnt go to film school. I dont think
going to film school is necessarily what you need to
do, although taking editing classes is a good thing.
Take the classes but dont feel you need to take a
two-year program. Meeting people is also important,
as is finding a mentor, someone who likes your
work and is willing to teach you. My mentor didnt
really spend much time teaching me as he basically
gave me things to do. If I asked
questions or needed notes, he would give it to me
but -- its mainly just having someone there telling
you are doing it right or not.
Do you find that editing Indie films gives you
creativity, as opposed to studio pictures?
The thing that I like about working on independent
films is that you work very closely with the creative
person who is usually the director, or producer or
producer/director. Most of the directors I have
worked with have also been the producers, which is
great because you can really work together on their
vision, rather than getting producers and directors
who may disagree with each other. Thats one thing
about Indie films, you get to work with someone, one
person who has one vision, rather than compromise
between different creative ideas. With studio films
you have so many people involved, producers,
executives from the studios –- you seldom have a
writer/director. With all those different visions, when
you compromise you often have to come up with
something blander than if you work with one person
who has got a unique vision.
One of my
favourite people to work with is Eli Steele, who is
deaf. But no one could think the way about sound
like he could. If something was out of sync, he could
tell it better than anyone because he reads lips. He
has a very unique vision because of it.
What is the most important thing you have
about the process of editing?
I just love the process so much and part of the
process is the discovery. The most important thing
that I have learned is just being open to all different
kinds of ideas on how to put something together. If
you are really communicating and open to the
directors vision then you can come up with ideas
that can surprise even yourself. Its really the
collaboration between the editor and the filmmaker.
That is why I love Indie films. That
collaboration is the thing I didnt really expect until I
did it and in a way thats the most important thing I
have learned that I couldnt have learned
beforehand; how to let the directors vision help me
come up with more ideas.
Can you give any advice to editors out there?
Basically, just watch lots of films. See how people
tell stories through editing. Notice how the editing
makes you feel, the reaction you get from different-
sized shots and the pacing and the different choices
that the editor makes. You need to know a bit about
the rules of editing to see how they are breaking the
rules. You have to learn the rules, but most
importantly, you have to know when to break the
rules. Its not really something that you can learn at
school. By paying attention to films at what works
and what doesnt, it helps you develop that instinct.
For more information on Joyce Brand click
here. For future story ideas contact me at